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Survivors of Christchurch shootings to be given permanent residency

WELLINGTON: New Zealand will grant permanent residency to all survivors of the mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques in which 50 Muslim worshippers were killed, it said on Tuesday.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a white supremacist, has been charged with 50 counts of murder for New Zealand’s worst peacetime mass shooting in which 50 other people at Friday prayers were wounded.

The government had said it was considering giving visas to survivors, but no decision was announced. Tuesday’s news was only released as a link on the immigration website, which some say was done to avoid any backlash by opponents of immigration.

Read More: Thousands attend NZ vigil, rally to fight racism, remember Christchurch victims

Immigration New Zealand said a new visa category called the Christchurch Response (2019) visa had been created. People who were present at the mosques when they were attacked on March 15 can apply, as can immediate family members.

Applicants must have been living in New Zealand on the day of the attack, so the visa will not be available to tourists or short-term visitors. Applications can be made from Wednesday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the attack was an act of terrorism and passed firearm laws banning semi-automatic weapons.

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